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Branding for Talent Recruitment – It’s Different Than Tourism

Carlsbad #nocoatneeded post

Cities competing to attract what Richard Florida calls the “creative class,” or an educated workforce, to drive their local economies face a distinct challenge in presenting themselves in the best light. That’s because place branding for relocation is different than branding for tourism.

Relocation of residency involves choices based on: lifestyle; longer term consequences such as career trajectories; quality of life; amenities regarding education and technology; cultural activities; social values; and family and cultural compatibility (Silvanto and Ryan, 2009, p. 104).

To be successful in attracting talent, cities must be effective in describing the identity, or essence, of a place. This is usually understood as its characteristics, a description that is often formed through case studies and data which describes the tangible, real-world, details. These details can include demographics of the residents; domestic growth rates; and percentage of open space for recreation.

But data and statistics alone don’t communicate the “reality” that is perceived by the target audience (Zenker, 2011).

In the words of urbanist Jane Jacobs, successful places are multidimensional and diverse, they do not cater to a single industry or a single demographic group. They are full of stimulation and creativity interplay (Silvanto and Ryan, 2015 a, p. 107).

Intangible qualities of a location – such as excitement and conviviality – are an essential part of creating a unique destination brand personality (Ekinci and Hosany (2006)).

For example, the City of Carlsbad is a hotbed for several technology categories – which also means a need for skilled, creative professionals. At the same time, the city, as well as the companies in the area, provides a great quality of life and an enviable work-life balance. Quality of life can be communicated in terms of miles of hiking trails, miles of beaches, the number of restaurants, and test scores for schools.

While data has its place in a campaign, numbers can fall short in communicating the satisfaction you feel after an early morning, pre-work, surf session. Or the comfortable summertime ambiance of a local craft-brew pub, windows wide open to passersby on the sidewalk.

Story telling through images is the best way to communicate these intangible qualities of a region.  And social media platforms, especially Instagram and Facebook, are the best vehicles to reach the right audiences for cities trying to attract professional talent. Through social media, stories are told in bite-sized installments, which add up to a compelling narrative, if done right.

A social media post of a photo of a real resident paddling out in the first morning light, follow-up images of her at work with like-minded and happy coworkers, and shots of a group of people enjoying a meal at a local eatery, are effective ways to communicate the work life balance that these cities offer.

At Cook + Schmid we have worked on a number of campaigns using social media to project an image of a location that resonates with prospects. Here are some other tips from our experience that contribute to an effective campaign to reinforce place branding through social media:

  • Make sure content is aligned with your true values. You can’t fake it!
  • Don’t make your images look too posed or professional
  • Reinforce your key messages by being consistent in the themes you choose
  • Best of all, prompt users to generate content themselves, because the most genuine and valuable stories come from users themselves

Silvanto, Sari & Ryan, Jason (2014). Relocation branding: a strategic framework for attracting talent from abroad: Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 2, No. 1

Zenker, Sebastian (2011). How to catch a city? The concept and measurement of place brands: Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 4, No. 1

Ekinci, Yuksel & Hosany, Sameer (2006). Destination Personality: An Application of Brand Personality to Tourism Destinations, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 127-139



SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Cook + Schmid, a full-service public relations, public affairs, advertising and marketing firm, received a Silver Bernays Award of Merit in the category of nonprofit/government/association events (seven days or fewer) at the 25th Annual Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence Awards hosted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The agency earned the Award of Merit for Orchids and Onions, an awards program that recognizes the best and worst of architecture, planning and urban design in the San Diego region.

Cook + Schmid developed and implemented a public relations and marketing plan that helped to increase the awareness and visibility of Orchids and Onions on its 40-year celebration and its host non-profit organization, the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF). The plan included an integrated approach to reach the media, larger public and key stakeholders. Cook + Schmid also supported SDAF’s social media campaign.

“Seeing the San Diego community step up its involvement in Orchids and Onions, one of the only awards ceremonies of its kind in the nation, is really encouraging,” said Margit Whitlock, vice president of the Board of Directors of SDAF. “It was great to have Cook + Schmid as a partner in helping our efforts this past year to get more people talking about architecture, design and our overall built environment.”

Cook + Schmid used the theme “Taking it Back to the People” to guide messaging and raise awareness about the importance of the competition among the general public. In recent years Orchids and Onions had declined in popularity among audiences not directly involved in the architecture industry. Leveraging the current region-wide focus on the housing crisis and controversial issues over development, Cook + Schmid successfully reached out to a broad range of audiences. Cook + Schmid effectively communicated the relevance of the competition as San Diego struggles with how to accommodate projected increases in population while maintaining the character of neighborhoods and quality of life.

As a result, the 2016 Orchids and Onions competition posted a record number of nominations for the award and the event reception sold out.

“It was great to see the turnout for Orchids and Onions extend to individuals who haven’t been involved in the past. This showed they understood how important this competition is for San Diego’s built environment as we struggle to accommodate growth,” said Jon Schmid, Cook + Schmid CEO and president. “The mission of the program is so important for the quality of life in our region.”

Cook + Schmid is a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm in San Diego, CA. Clients include private and public companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies. Cook + Schmid offers multi-cultural marketing and public outreach, as well as social media, website, interactive technologies, and mobile application development. For more information, please visit



Understanding Your Audience – Baby Boomers

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.


Baby Boomers

Baby BoomersThe last generation analyzed in this blog series are the Baby Boomers. Individuals in this generation were born between 1946 and 1964. According the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015 there were 75.4 million baby boomers making them one of the largest generations in U.S. history. Baby Boomers were born after World War II when the United States experienced a sharp rise in birth rates. They grew up as technology, like television, was emerging.

Baby Boomers place high importance on careers, money, hard work, recognition and prestige. According to Value Options, they value individual choice, community involvement, prosperity, ownership, self-actualizing, and health and wellness.

Baby Boomers use both new and old technology. Their most used form of communication is a cell phone followed by broadband at home, a smartphone and tablet. Additionally, they prefer email more than text. They are likely to use the Internet for email, search engines, hobbies, directions and health information. To effective influence this audience, your marketing or public relations strategy should include carefully selected online, broadcast and print communication channels.

Of all the social media sites, Baby Boomers can best be reached via Facebook with 52 percent of the younger boomers and 46 percent of the older boomers on Facebook. They are just beginning to warm up to other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.

According to WordStream, “The Boomers are the most likely to misunderstand Facebook remarketing ads clogging up their Newsfeeds but still are receptive to direct marketing and sales tactics; they like to talk to real people.” Although Baby Boomers are beginning to use technology and social media platforms more, they still prefer face-to-face communication more than any other form of communication. They tend to be wary of the impacts these gadgets and platforms have on society (Pew Research Study).

Public relations professionals should use social media platforms to build trust with Baby Boomers by being transparent and factual in their communications. Content targeted to this generation must be clear, simple and concise or they will quickly become skeptical of the organization’s authenticity. Facebook is the best platform to reach Boomers because they are just beginning to become engaged with networking sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Old media, more specifically television, tends to be the most viewed/used form of media.

Cook + Schmid Contracted for City of Carlsbad Life in Action Talent Recruitment Campaign

SAN DIEGO – Cook + Schmid, a full-service public relations, public affairs, advertising and marketing firm,  was selected by the City of Carlsbad’s Community and Economic Development division to develop a strategic place-branding and marketing program to attract talented workers and entrepreneurs to the city.

Cook + Schmid will develop branding recommendations and strategic communications planning, emphasizing online and social media engagement.

“Carlsbad is a hub for the innovation economy with a culture that encourages an active lifestyle,” said Jon Schmid, Cook + Schmid’s president and CEO. “Place branding and talent recruitment are unique challenges that differ from tourism-related marketing and are critical to maintaining the region as an economic powerhouse.”

Carlsbad offers a unique California-casual culture and characteristics that reflect work/life balance, diversity and quality of life. Its key industries include action sports, life sciences, high-tech, clean tech and creative industries.

The goal of the campaign is to amplify interest in Carlsbad among highly educated, skilled professionals who want an active lifestyle and a fulfilling career. Cook + Schmid’s unique online engagement tools enable the firm to find and target individuals who fit the profile of the perfect Carlsbad employee or business owner.

About Cook + Schmid

Cook + Schmid is a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm in San Diego, CA. Clients include private and public companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies. Cook + Schmid offers multi-cultural marketing and public outreach, as well as social media, website, interactive, and mobile application development. For more information, please visit


Cook + Schmid Developed Article Published in Etihad Airways’ In-Flight Magazine

Etihad In Flight

Etihad Airways has partnered with IBM to transform the company into the world’s first “cognitive” airline. In doing so, Etihad Airways needed a strategic communications program to inform Etihad leadership and staff, its technology and innovation group, partners, stakeholders and the public of its new capabilities and programs. Cook + Schmid crafted a communications plan including positioning and messaging for each audience. The plan also identified various communications channels. To make audiences aware of the company’s evolution, Cook + Schmid staff developed email templates, newsletter articles and other digital and print collateral, including an article published in Etihad Airways’ in-flight magazine.

To read the full article, please click here.



Understanding Your Audience – Generation X

Note: This blog is part of a series for marketers which describes the characteristics, values and preferences of various generations.

Generation X


Generation X

Members of Generation X are the parents of Millennials and Gen Z. They were born between 1965 and 1980. Individuals in this generation are sometimes called “latchkey children,” because both of their parents worked, which led them to be unsupervised most of the time. As they grew up, there was also an increase in divorce rates and tough economic times.

Gen X is much smaller in size compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers. They are known to hold significantly different characteristics than younger generations although early members hold traits of Baby Boomers and late members have some Millennial traits (Maye Create Design).

Gen Xers are considered skeptical and quick to question, goal-oriented and multi-taskers. Additionally, they value freedom, flexibility, recognition, mobility and diversity. They focus on value, are financially responsible and self-reliant leading them to respond better to factual messages that demonstrate cost versus value. It’s important for this generation to get a good value for their hard-earned dollars. Keep these attributes in mind, particularly the focus on value, when crafting your public relations or marketing messages.

When it comes to technology, Gen X adapts well to new technologies. They grew up during the emergence of the personal computer, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone. According to Nielsen’s Generational Snapshot Study, “At 70 percent, Generation X leads the way in terms of national tablet penetration.”

Although this group is technologically savvy, they still gravitate toward traditional media platforms. A study shows that 48 percent listen to the radio, 62 percent still read newspapers and 85 percent have favorite television shows (Forrestor Research). When communicating with Gen X, traditional channels should not be overlooked because a clear majority still value information from these sources. An integrated public relations or marketing strategy, incorporating both digital and traditional communications, is typically the most effective in engaging this group.

Their quick adoption of new technologies and comfort in traditional media platforms allow Gen X to be reached by multiple communication channels. “A survey by Millward Brown Digital found that 60 percent of Xers use a smartphone daily and 75 percent are routinely on social networks” (Ad Week). Communication channels such as email and email marketing work well for this generation. The tone of the message should be informational, and emphasize the benefits received.

Email marketing campaigns can be effective when trying to get their attention and so can other platforms such as social media, television and radio. While Gen Xers like a more-straight forward approach, they can still appreciate a humorous message when done well.

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